Comet C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) will make its closest approach to the Sun on 14 February, at a distance of 1.32 AU.
From Cambridge on the day of perihelion it will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 02:37 (EST) and reaching an altitude of 23° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 05:33.
The events that comprise the 2024 apparition of C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) are as follows:
|14 Feb 2024||Comet C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion|
|01 Mar 2024||Comet C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) reaches peak brightness|
|14 Mar 2024||Comet C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) passes perigee|
The table below lists the times when C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) will be visible from Cambridge day-by-day through its apparition:
|24 Jan 2024||Scorpius||Not observable|
|26 Jan 2024||Scorpius||Not observable|
|28 Jan 2024||Scorpius||Not observable|
|30 Jan 2024||Scorpius||Not observable|
|01 Feb 2024||Scorpius||Not observable|
|03 Feb 2024||Ophiuchus||Not observable|
|05 Feb 2024||Ophiuchus||Not observable|
|07 Feb 2024||Ophiuchus||Not observable|
|09 Feb 2024||Ophiuchus||Not observable|
|11 Feb 2024||Ophiuchus||Visible from 05:35 until 05:37|
Highest at 05:37, 22° above SE horizon
|13 Feb 2024||Ophiuchus||Visible from 05:20 until 05:34|
Highest at 05:34, 23° above SE horizon
|15 Feb 2024||Ophiuchus||Visible from 05:07 until 05:32|
Highest at 05:32, 25° above SE horizon
|17 Feb 2024||Serpens Cauda||Visible from 04:54 until 05:29|
Highest at 05:29, 26° above SE horizon
|19 Feb 2024||Serpens Cauda||Visible from 04:42 until 05:27|
Highest at 05:27, 27° above SE horizon
|21 Feb 2024||Serpens Cauda||Visible from 04:30 until 05:24|
Highest at 05:24, 28° above SE horizon
|23 Feb 2024||Serpens Cauda||Visible from 04:19 until 05:21|
Highest at 05:21, 30° above SE horizon
|25 Feb 2024||Ophiuchus||Visible from 04:08 until 05:18|
Highest at 05:18, 31° above SE horizon
|27 Feb 2024||Serpens Cauda||Visible from 03:57 until 05:15|
Highest at 05:15, 33° above SE horizon
|29 Feb 2024||Serpens Cauda||Visible from 03:46 until 05:12|
Highest at 05:12, 34° above SE horizon
|02 Mar 2024||Serpens Cauda||Visible from 03:36 until 05:09|
Highest at 05:09, 35° above SE horizon
|04 Mar 2024||Serpens Cauda||Visible from 03:26 until 05:06|
Highest at 05:06, 37° above SE horizon
The chart below shows the path of C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS) over the course of its apparition, as calculated from the orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC). It is available for download, either on dark background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats, or on a light background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats. It was produced using StarCharter.
Comets are intrinsically highly unpredictable objects, since their brightness depends on the scattering of sunlight from dust particles in the comet's coma and tail. This dust is continually streaming away from the comet's nucleus, and its density at any particular time is governed by the rate of sublimation of the ice in the comet's nucleus, as it is heated by the Sun's rays. It also depends on the amount of dust that is mixed in with that ice. This is very difficult to predict in advance, and can be highly variable even between successive apparitions of the same comet.
In consequence, while the future positions of comets are usually known with a high degree of confidence, their future brightnesses are not. For most comets, we do not publish any magnitude estimates at all. For the few comets where we do make estimates, we generally prefer the BAA's magnitude parameters to those published by the Minor Planet Center, since they are typically updated more often.
Based on the magnitude parameters published for this comet by the BAA Comet Section, we estimate that it may be around mag 9 on 14 February 2024. This estimate is based on observations that the BAA has received from amateur astronomers, assuming that its current level of activity will remain constant.
This comet is not expected to be visible to the naked eye, but might be visible through bird-watching binoculars.
The comet's position at perihelion will be:
|Comet C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS)||17h24m00s||17°53'S||Ophiuchus||8.8|
The coordinates are given in J2000.0.
The sky on 14 Feb 2024
|The sky on 14 February 2024|
5 days old
All times shown in EST.
This event was automatically generated on the basis of orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) , and is updated whenever new elements become available. It was last updated on 04 Nov 2023.
© Andy Roberts 1997. Pictured comet is C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp.